Monday, July 08, 2013

More from Ayn Rand's sycophants

I was not exaggerating when I said that the free online book Facets of Ayn Rand was written by sycophants. Here they are defending Rand's public behavior in the chapter Ayn Rand on Negatives.

Here is Mary Ann Sures:
No one should forget that she defined a philosophy which has improved countless lives. She has inspired readers, by telling them that their minds are capable of understanding reality, and by giving them a morality of life. She has given them the incentive to achieve goals and move forward; she has created works of art in which man is an exalted being. Who else is doing that today in literature? Now, there were times when she did get angry in public, during question periods after a lecture. But to focus on those occasions is misleading. You have to ask: what is important about Ayn Rand? That she wrote Atlas Shrugged and defined a philosophy one can live by, or that, at times, she was capable of getting very angry? They are not equivalents.
And her husband Charles:
Ayn was perceptive. She could see what assumptions were behind certain questions; she could detect the hidden agendas, the unnamed ideas. She knew when someone was, for example, really questioning the validity of reason or advocating altruism—without saying it openly. And she knew what those ideas would lead to if put into effect; she knew the practical consequences of those ideas. She understood that man’s survival was at stake. Ayn was always the defender of man’s life and values, and when she saw them being attacked, in any form, she responded forcefully. She was not a “tolerant” person. If what you said was evil or seriously wrong, she let you know it and she let you know what she thought and felt about it. (There were other reasons for her anger, as well—see Leonard Peikoff’s memoir mentioned above.)
My thought on reading this is that Rand must have made quite a public spectacle of herself for these two to feel the need to say, yeah, she got angry but she was the genius who wrote Atlas Shrugged!

The entire book, with introduction from Ayn's designated heir  and spokesperson (who gets all the royalties from her books) Leonard Peikoff, strikes me as a defensive exercise, which was no doubt necessary after Nathaniel Branden and his wife each wrote their tell-all books. Here's Peikoff on the Sures book:
Their book offers plentiful examples of Ayn Rand’s mind, and intellectual generosity, in action, and also captures many lesser-known aspects of this unique woman. In these pages, we see Ayn Rand the celebrity, the loving wife, the legal client (of Charles), the employer (of Mary Ann). We are with her in her study (including the day she wrote the last page of Atlas Shrugged), at stamp shows, at the opera, on a New York City transit bus, in the White House. We discover new examples of her favorite and least favorite things in clothes, perfume, parties, music. We relish again her sense of humor, her capacity for indignant anger, her benevolence.
I've avoided demonstrating the veracity of Godwin's Law so far in writing about Ayn Rand, but when I read this book I can't help but be reminded of Franz Liebkind from The Producers:
Hitler - there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats! 
The book is pretty obviously a whitewashing - all other biographies of Rand make clear how important Nathaniel Branden was to Rand, not only for their personal, sexual relationship, but because Branden promoted Rand's work until their falling out. This book's timeline mentions Branden exactly twice:
  • 1962: Nathaniel Branden Institute opens (January)
  • 1968: Nathaniel Branden Institute closes (May)
 And now for a little from Rand herself. Here she is, declaring that a woman shouldn't be president of the United States. "Commander-in-chief of the army, a woman, I zink it's unspeakable."